This is my new bike. Well, I say it is mine, it’s far too small, and actually intended for Polly, but ever since Richard rescued a vintage racing bike from a tip, and totally fell in love with it, I have been inspired to find beauty in old bikes. (I’m not in competition with a 1980’s racing bike, or anything…luckily, as I’m not sure I’d be winning. He took photos of it with him on holiday !!) The bike was at our favourite recycling spot/second-hand emporium/tea shop venue, the Emmaus Village, Carlton. It was £10. And it reminded me of being 7. We got halfway down the road from Emmaus before I decided that we HAD to go back for it. Bikes are lovely. Bikes mean freedom, and adventure – even if it’s just going to the park under your own steam. And this particular one seems to be shouting ‘put streamers on my handlebars!!’ Or is that just me??
It is funny, the things that inspire you. Last week, spending some quality raining/reading/beaching time in Devon and Dorset, I tried to hoover up as many lovely ideas as possible. New prints and new opportunities are stacking up for Autumn (season of mist, mellow fruitfulness and a happy return to production for S&A.) Autumn is actually my favourite season. It smells like bonfires, hotdogs and new school shoes. It sounds like Nick Drake. It very rarely gives you sunburn and it all looks very pretty. Seeing as I am a total stationery geek, the whole ‘back to school’ thing particularly appeals as well.
*Dinosaurs. We visited the fabulous DinosaurLand museum in Lyme Regis. Awesome. None of your hi-tech animatronic dinosaurs, more like plastic models of dinosaurs eating other dinosaurs, with lots of fake red blood everywhere. Loads of fossils and bones, and an impossible quiz sheet. Or, if you prefer more recent natural history, another room of stuffed animals with wildcats eating chickens. I kid you not – this was small boy heaven! And I know it was cool, because I bumped into Louisa from Luscious Juice Bar in there!! (From Lime Street to Lyme Regis…I like her thinking!) Polly drew some dinosaurs. We are currently in talks about her design-rights fees.
*Fantastic Mr Fox. The world has gone a bit fox mad recently, they are popping their little pointy faces up everywhere. Hopefully our own fox design t’shirts will appear very soon, but in the meantime I managed to watch the recent film of the Roald Dahl classic. It is quite breathtakingly good.
*Excellent toy shops. We stopped for a veggie/vegan lunch in Glastonbury on one of the more torturous journeys home from Devon we’ve had in recent years. The children had some holiday money to burn, so we nipped in to the Little Imp Toyshop (you have to love the place names in Glastonbury. The Cat and Cauldron, Heaven in Avalon, Look at my crazy shoes.com – it’s like Harry Potter, only with more incence sticks. ) Our own little imps were delighted, and once we had purchased a magnetic monkey and some actual fairy dust, (quality varies, I’ll have you know. This was good stuff,) the lady told us her website offers free UK delivery! Just a pre-Christmas-nonsense tip there. I loved their stacking cups made from recycled milk containers!
*The H&M childrens’ homeware collection. It’s properly gorgey. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had enough of pink flowery cutesy designs and football/car designs for kids. Neon wolves and grey and black stars are soooo refreshing. I suddenly feel the urge to buy multiple duvet covers. Oh dear.
*Fabulous places to take kids for brunch. Brunch is quite obviously the new afternoon tea. (Though they are not competing for the same time slot. Soon I think, we will cut out traditional mealtimes all together, and have brunch, followed by afternoon tea, followed by a massive midnight feast, or something. I can’t say I’m against such proposals…) And there are a few places I’ve been over the summer that manage to pull off that enviable double-whammy of being both child-friendly, and design-conscious. And they support small local suppliers. Firstly, obviously, Fancy in Bedford. Famous for their sticky ginger cake and chocolate brownies, the savoury stuff is every bit as amazing. Try the bagel with onion chutney and cheese. 10.30 am perfection.
The other place in Bedford that I went to and loved was the Ground Floor Coffee Shop, based in the old Crayola Building off Ampthill Road. You can read my review of it in the marvellous September edition of the Bedford Clanger (and check out the brilliant Photo a Day entries while you’re at it!) Quite simply, this place rocks. You can park your bikes or car right outside, there is plenty of space for any necessary running about, and they do magnificent brunches. Oh, and the vintage typewriter didn’t go unnoticed either…
And then The Town Mill Bakery in Lyme Regis is something very special indeed. With long benches and a help-yourself policy, it has that chilled-out, unfussy vibe that makes it suitable for wriggly kids; and the food is perfection. Freshly made pizza, bread, cakes, muesli, and locally made apple juice are all just waiting for you – cups hang on hooks above the tables – no agonizing wait for hungry post-beach breakfasts, or lunches, or teas…and it’s not even expensive. We went twice. I would have started camping outside, but that’s for next year’s plan for fun…